COP25: a disappointing edition

The originally scheduled conference in Brazil finally took place in Madrid from December 2 to 15, 2019 after the withdrawal of host Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil.

Lack of ambitions and mixed interests

A mixed agreement that was not unanimous concluded this 25th climate conference.

The closing of the conference had to be postponed many times as the different countries seemed divided on the key topics. “The international community has lost an important opportunity to show greater ambition, “regretted the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres.

The slogan of this 25th edition “time for action” was therefore not respected, since few concrete measures or large-scale agreements were reached.

80 countries have pledged to do more by next year, but they are emerging nations or Pacific islands already threatened with submersion. These countries represent only 10% of global emissions.

Photo call of the leaders during the opening day of Cop25 (source: UN.ORG)

The European Union has also taken a historic decision by announcing its carbon neutrality in 2050. However the large emitters of CO2 (China, India, Brazil, Australia, Japan and especially the United States) have ruled out any additional effort in the state current things. None of its major greenhouse gas emitters have made significant announcements to demonstrate their ambition to meet the challenges of climate change.

Several disappointments punctuated this Cop 25, including the absence of a concrete agreement on the issue of international carbon markets.

The carbon market aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, these gases are indeed responsible for global warming. The carbon market operates on the “polluter pays” principle. Thus, the carbon market consists of making greenhouse gas emitters pay the cost of the nuisance that this represents for the climate. It also allows the least polluting countries to resell allowances to those emitting more

Why is this carbon market having trouble being implemented?

Several points of contention exist:

There is first, the question of “double counting”. Thus, the biggest polluting countries and the oil-producing countries, notably led by Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and China, are banking on the establishment of a world market with binding rules. They would like, for example, that the payment of the tax be borne by the country selling quotas and by the buying country. However, if this rule is followed emissions are reduced on paper and states pay fewer taxes.

Then there is the question of the fate of the remnants of carbon credits from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Europe would like there to be more transparency on the repayment of credits, which are often poorly controlled in the new carbon market. China, India and Brazil hold 60% of these credits.

This question, which has already been the subject of debate at previous conferences, therefore remains pending.

Teresa Ribera, Spanish Minister for the Environment during her speech at Cop25

The Spanish Minister of the Environment Teresa Ribera, summed up this conference with “two visions” very clear. “Those who want to go faster and those who want to hide behind what is not working, so as not to move forward.”

A majority of actions therefore remain pending and tend to be discussed during the 26th edition which will take place in Glasgow at the end of 2020. The Glasgow conference is already highly anticipated.